Friday, July 11, 2014

Movie #261: House of Wax

House of Wax is a 1953 horror movie starring Vincent Goddamn Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni, and Charles Bronson before he was Bronson (he was going by Buchinski at the time).

Henry Jarrod (Price) is a master sculptor who runs a house of wax, but won't go in for the "chamber of horrors" kind of thing that his contemporaries do. His business partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) just wants to cash out, and Jarrod has found a business man Sidney Wallace (Paul Cavanagh) who might be willing...in three months. This isn't good enough for Burke, and he suggests torching the place. Jarrod, who thinks of his statues as real, would rather die, so Burke just lights the place up, beats Jarrod and leaves him for dead.

Now fast forward a while, and a killer is stalking the streets of New York, deformed and dressed in black. He knocks off Burke in his office, and then kills his girlfriend (Jones) and steals their bodies. Obviously, it's Jarrod, driven mad and starting up a new house of wax with a chamber of horrors made from real corpses, yo. He even has pupils (Bronson and Nedrick Young) who assist him, and he takes on a young friend of Wallace (who has become his new partner) to help him. This man, Scott (Picerni) just happens to be the boyfriend of Sue Allen (Kirk), roommate of the girl he murdered and witness to his crime, and the perfect model for his new Marie Antoinette!

The movie has some melodrama, but it's a lot of fun to watch Price act in his prime. House of Wax is also an early 3D movie, and though the copy I have isn't in 3D, it's obvious where the 3D bits would be (there's a barker who works with paddle-balls, and a scene set in a can-can dance theater just so the girls' kickers would be in 3D). The movie is a good study in 50s horror, and it's held up surprisingly well.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: House of Wax (2006)